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Wind company sets sights on WP  

A privately owned wind company headquartered in Chicago has plans to establish a major wind farm development in West Prince. This will be the third major wind farming operation in the works in western PEI in as many years. Invenergy Wind Canada has been negotiating with the Skinner’s Pond Wind Farm Committee, a group of local landowners who have been meeting privately for the past year to move forward on a wind development scheme for their area. They have recruited over 40 landowners who have signed leasing or easement agreements with Invenergy to erect between 40-70 turbines in and around Skinner’s Pond, Waterford, Palmer Road and Pleasant View. An open house was hosted by the committee and Invenergy Wind Canada at Palmer Road Knights of Columbus Hall on Friday allowing members of the community an opportunity to find out more about the proposal. The company has already started the meteorological and environmental research to prepare for the development. They will be mapping the 5,500 acres of land encompassed within the range of the project and once the best wind mass is located, positioning of the wind towers and their numbers will be established. Richard Deacon, project manager for Invenergy Services Canada described this as an average size project for one of the largest wind mill companies in the world. The company has major wind farm developments in Texas, Montana, Tennessee and New York. They are also operating sites in Europe and are now in Canada. “We don’t have a power purchase contract yet but because we are in so many markets in USA, we anticipate success in that area,” Mr Deacon said. Maritime Electric has the capacity to move the power out of the province now and will be holding a competition among developers. Invenegry will be involved in that process vying for the access to the transmission service. Mr Deacon said there is a tremendous wind resource here and they will be qualifying it by setting up two test towers in the very near future. In addition, environmental assessments must be conducted on the affect this kind of development will have on birds, bats, wildlife and fish habitat, vegetation and agriculture. They will be looking into the information available on low-frequency sound studies, flicker effects, visual factors, drainage, public safety, archaeology, construction effects as well as impact on the economy and local business. He said there are zones designated for wind development on PEI. “We are in one of them. The western end of the province has the best wind resource,” he said. The Skinner’s Pond Wind Farm committee includes land owners Floyd Keefe, Harris Callaghan, Randy Doyle, Randy Wedge, Curtis Oliver and Wilbert Shea. They took the initiative to seek out companies interested in starting a project here. Invenergy was one of a half dozen companies considered for this partnership. “It’s a unique deal, one the landowners themselves structured. What we did is develop a revenue sharing model and whether a landowner has a unit on his property or not, he will share in the profit going into the landowner pool,” he explained. In addition, a Community Benefit Fund will see $500 per megawatt produced annually, going into a special fund. A 100 megawatt operation like the one being proposed has potential to raise $50,000 a year for the benefit of the community, Mr Deacon said. Not all residents have been lured by the deal. There are a number of landowners who have not signed on for a windmill on their property and are unhappy about the proposed development. They are concerned on a number of levels, including the changes in the landscape with massive towers springing up around their properties. There is concern about the high voltage lines that will be transmitting power from the windmills to the utility and the possible side effects the electromagnetic force (EMF) will have on their health and the health of their children. Gordon Gaudette, a resident of Palmer Road wondered what will happen to the leasing agreements if the company goes broke. He felt that the people who are in favour of the project are getting something out of it but everyone will have to put up with the noise and visual pollution a farm of this size will create. He feels fortunate that family members who own the land around him have not signed on and although this means he won’t have turbines in his back yard, he said it is likely the transmission lines will be passing in front of his property. He has two children and his neighbours also have children. “The people around us don’t want it,” said the Palmer Road resident. “This is going to generate power overseas. What’s going to happen to our power. What will happen to our costs once New Brunswick Power sees we are producing power here for somewhere else for big money? It’s bound to affect our power rates.”

By Debbie Horne

West Prince Graphic

9 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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